nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
This needs one of those webpages that just says "No".

All week I have been meaning to do a politics post and getting distracted by watching the news all evening. Tonight I managed to switch it off for a bit, but only to make a cake for work tomorrow*. Politics post will have to wait until tomorrow. We probably won't have a government yet, Theresa May will be continuing to demonstrate why she was, on their terms, a success as Conservative Home Secretary**, did OK to start with as PM as long as she didn't have to answer questions, and then failed so much in an election campaign, the DUP [insert rant here] will continue to demonstrate how much the LibDems failed in coalition negotiations, and more awful news will continue to come out about the catastrophic fire at Glenfell Tower. The details of that will also need another post. On the political front, when the Daily Mail has telephoto lens images of May not meeting the public and video of Corbyn doing a walkabout and hugging people, you know that the optics, as they say, are not good for the PM.

*Lemon drizzle. It needs to cook another 10 minutes and then I need to put the blasted drizzle on it and then I need to wait for it to cool so I can take it out. I am out of practice at baking. It doesn't help that I was doing it by the light of an anglepoise lamp on the other side of the room because the lighting circuit fuse blew yesterday evening. The electician is supposed to be turning up tomorrow. At least it is nearly midsummer.

**Being constitutionally incapable of recognising that something is a bad idea and changing tack, overseeing catastrophe by pretending there is no problem, and and being unable to communicate with people as human beings is a really good combination if you're a Tory Home Sec with the goal of survival.
nineveh_uk: Photo of Rondvassbu in winter (rondvassbu)
Edinburgh is going to host a ski race! Not until February 2020, but nonetheless, Edinburgh is going to host a cross-country world cup ski race. This aforementioned bid has been successful, and it's hosting the first stage of a tour that will then to go Sweden and Norway. As you can imagine, I am quite excited.

Unsurprisingly, there's not a lot of news on it in English, but I'm amused that translated press release includes my anticipated virtuous comment about getting more countries involved. It should be brilliant, I just hope it doesn't pour with rain. It wouldn't be a problem for the snow, but it would make spectating a lot less fun.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
If this is another cold I am going to scream. Three days! I had three days cold-free after the last one (which started on 23 March) finally seemed like it might have ended. Honestly, did I offend the God of Rhinoviruses in a past life?
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
My new cheese grater has exacted its appointed tribute. None can withstand the eternal maw.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
• Unanticipated moment at work, walking past a poster for a talk entitled Fanon Transformed? The New Writings. After a moment of slight surprised at the University's finally catching up with the concept of media studies as a legitimate humanities discipline, I realised that it was in fact a talk about philosopher Frantz Fanon, and looks rather interesting so I might actually go to it. But the thought of some of our academics talking about leather pants!Draco remains an amusing one.

• I am off work until Tuesday, hurray! The last week has been rather frustrating; I had a list of things that I wanted to get on with in a week in which fewer people were about, and spent the entire time dealing with urgent things caused by fewer people being about... I left with a paper still to write for first thing on Tuesday. Well, it will just have to be written for second thing on Tuesday.

• My parents are here, which is great. Unfortunately, they aren't supposed to be here, they are supposed to be spending two nights with friends in Dorset before rejoining me tomorrow, but the car developed a fault en route yesterday. It is a Volkswagen diesel. As you can imagine, their degree of unimpressed-ness with VW is fairly stratospheric at the moment.

• Inevitably, the weather has chosen today to finally get cold and cloudy. But Mum and Dad have gone to look at the fritillaries in the water meadows and I am going to the supermarket, to mop the kitchen floor, and then do a bit of writing. Honest.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I thought that I had already ticked the "stupid thing of the week" box when on Sunday I walked downstairs with damp feet, no slippers, not paying attention, and feel. During the next second or so, time slowed down to give me ample leisure to reflect on my stupidity. Fortunately it also gave me time to grab the bannister and lift my head, so while I have a sore arm and shoulder and am bruised across two bits of back, neither of them is my tailbone, victim of the stair incident you'd think would have taught me better, and I didn't then bounce the rest of the way to the bottom. My dignity is harmed, but not my forthcoming skiing trip. Though I might pick up some pre-emptive diclofenac from the GP because I'm definitely going to fall down again while I'm there. Annoyingly, the visible bruises are not very impressive.

Anyway, that is the only the second stupidest thing I have done this week, and it's only Tuesday. Far, far worse is that I saw a new chapter of a fic was up and I clicked on it, and now I want to read it and know what happens, but I still have a chapter and a half that was already posted to go that I have skimmed, but not read properly (it is in German. Reading properly takes me a long time). And of course I clicked to an early bit and argh, now I need to know what happens next BUT I WILL BE STRONG!

Stop being productive, author! You were supposed to wait a week until I was on holiday and had more time.
nineveh_uk: Photo of Rondvassbu in winter (rondvassbu)
Many years ago, I read Tim Moore's account of cycling on Iceland, Frost on my Moustache. Other than it being gently amusing, I remember only two things from this book. The first being the dirty joke that gave him the title, the second one of the most useful pieces of advice in my adult life.

Anyone who was bought outdoor walking or other sports or exercise gear in the last few decades will know about 'layering'. Base layer - optional mid-layer - outer layer. It is the gospel upon which the well-dressed hiker's comfort is built. But almost all resources on this subject omit a really crucial piece of information about how to make the layering system work: that your base layer, i.e. your long underwear that clings mercilessly to your body, must be something that you are willing to wear, on its own in a public place with people looking at you. Because if it isn't then you can't make the layering system work.

Moore illustrated this with a vivid descripion of the cycling undergarment he had purchased, which he likened to an Edwardian fetish costume,* and the horrendous experience of trying to get out of it. I simply stood in Marks and Spencers and contemplated the black sports long underwear, and the otherwise identical white, and considered which I'd rather be wearing when I had to strip off my fleece. I bought the black.

And in short, that is why, 14 years later and thinking that maybe I am allowed a new set of sports long underwear and will go for an extra-warm set, I have once again bought the black. Admittedly the insulated downhill ski jacket I've just bought is in women's mountain purple, which I object to on principle because so much stuff is made in it, and also because it really suits me and I would like to be able to choose it, and not just have it because it is the Girls' Version, but because it is nice and also because outer layers should be colours that search and rescue can spot.**

TL:DR I blame the patriarchy for making me dislike pink. Also, I don't care how warm merino thermals are, I do not find them non-itch.

*Having years later seen a man walking up Vulcano in a cycling undergarment, I can only say that (a) Moore was right, and (b) I'm never going to forget that sight.

**Admittedly it is highly unlikely that search and rescue will need to, but you never know. Even so, my cross-country jacket is ivory, because the alternative was fuchsia pink, and I just couldn't.

Sing La!

Jan. 16th, 2017 12:42 pm
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
Guess who's going to Hamilton next year :-)
nineveh_uk: photo of lava (volcano)
I posted in the summer about the terrific performance of Opera North's Götterdämmerung that I went to see. Now I can see the rest of them, as can you, because BBC4 is broadcasting Das Rheingold on the evening of 12 February, and then the rest online. See here for a trailer.

In case this semi-staged concert performance, or the auditorium of Leeds Town Hall* is too visually exciting for you, fear not!

In addition to the four complete films of the Ring operas, Opera North will also release a full Ring cycle ‘conductor-cam’ online. This sixteen-hour film is made up of a single shot of Richard Farnes conducting the entire cycle, one of the longest and most complex pieces of music ever written, which places incredible demands on its conductor.

The whole thing will also be available to viewers outside the UK.

Have the trailer:


*It is pretty special. I was in a couple of the LEA's children's music concerts, and spent the bits counting rests etc.** gawping at the faux marble pillars that look like giant bruised legs and reading the inscriptions round the top. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh bvt in vain. Now there's a line that would cheese of Captain Vimes.

**Clarinet...
nineveh_uk: Cover illustration for "Strong Poison" in pulp fiction style with vampish Harriet. (Strong Poison)
My fandom year ended annoyingly as the new year's eve performance of Five Guys Named Moe I was supposed to go to was cancelled due to cast illness (possibly the stinking cold going round that has deprived me of most of my voice). But the year ended, a new one has begun, and as I am supposed to be packing to get the train home tomorrow, I am allowing time for a meme instead.

Courtesy of [personal profile] naraht

1. Your main fandom of the year?

I think that this probably has to be Tanz der Vampire. Not because I've written loads in it (grand total: two fics) or am active in the online fandom, but because as a direct result of it I've started learning German again and went on holiday to see it, so in terms of personal commitment it definitely gets a lot of points.

2. Your favourite film watched this year?

*Attempts to think which films I've seen this year* I'm really not sure. Perhaps When Marnie Was There. Not because it was the best film I've seen this year (I'm assuming they were also supposed to be in the cinema), because Carol, Rams, and The Wind Rises were all better. But it was an excellent film that introduced me to a new genre, was gripping all the way through, and portrayed the travails of childhood done with much sensitivity and skill.

3. Your favourite book read this year?

Oh dear, I'm not sure about this one, either. Not the first Elena Ferrante - it caught me in the wrong mood and I didn't finish it, though I shall certainly come back to it. I don't think I could really call it a favourite, but perhaps the book that has left the most lasting impression on me this year has been Stefan Zweig's autobiography The World of Yesterday, which felt at times appallingly topical. His description of the events leading up to the First World War, not as the thunderous hoofbeats of history, but as something that just sort of happens while being so bizarre a concept that it is impossible to believe it is actually going to happen. Zweig literally gets the last train back from Belgium (where he has been on a seaside holiday) to Germany and sees troops and trains massing at the border and even then he recounts still thinking/telling himself that it's obviously manoeuvres, because there's no way that Germany is going to invade Belgium. It's not the best-written book I've read this year, but it was fascinating. Even the several chapters of deeply-tedious fanboying of early C20 minor French and Belgian poets gain pathos later when one appreciates the degree to which Zweig is writing in exile, looking back to a different world that, for all its egregious faults, was not the world of World Wars and the Holocaust.

4. Your favourite TV show of the year?

Oh dear, this probably has to be Yuri on Ice. Fun as Deutschland 83, Trapped and The Night Manager were, enchanting as Planet Earth II inevitably was, YOI was a delightful accompaniment to a rather trying autumn and something to look forward to amidst the global and domestic politics and perpetual nose-blowing/sniffing/48 hour flu etc.

5. Your favourite online fandom community of the year?

I have certainly spent too much time on FFA.

6. Your best new fandom discovery of the year?

Quite how many hits/kudos it is possible to get through production of a timely fic in a larger fandom. I shall not be switching all my fic production to hunt-the-kudos, but it is a nice change on occasion.

7. Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

(1) Me. Definitely not enough writing, the giant Wimsey/HP crossover made some progress but still isn't finished (and I've realised that I think I'm going to do a major edit of one aspect of it, kill your darlings argh), and I had lots of ideas for various things and just haven't got to more than rough notes of it. It's basically a question of time and energy (and German), but very annoying.

(2) Therese Johaug (Norwegian cross-country skier) failed a doping test and is currently suspended pending the formal outcome. I veer between thinking that her account is plausible as someone having an ill-timed but understandable in the circumstances moment of carelessness over medication that clearly brought no performance benefit, and that that is exactly the sort of story that you'd come up with if you were in fact doping and that maybe there's a reason for that extra sprint prowess last year.
I'm a lot less disappointed with the ongoing revelations about some of the Russians because I've had suspicions for longer, not least because of their pattern of competition.

(skips a couple of questions, can't be bothered to re-number)

10. Your biggest squee moment of the year?

Without a doubt, going to see Tanz der Vampire live, which is a good thing considering I went to another country in order to do so. Absolutely enormous fun, surrounded by an audience of people also having enormous fun. With vampires.

Honourable mention for Yuri on Ice episode 10 . I laughed like a drain the entire episode and spent far too much time on the internet afterwards. It was hilarious, but also really enjoyable to see a work really pull off a narrative switch on the audience like that. It's something far more creators attempt than succeed at.

11. The most missed of your old fandoms?
Definitely the moment at which I realised that yes, I really, really did want to go and see The Cursed Child once it was on stage and tickets were unobtainable. I had assumed beforehand that I wouldn't be that fussed, that I'd wait and see how it was reviewed etc. etc. It was a mistake.

12. The fandom you haven’t tried yet, but want to?

My first interest isn't fandom, it's canons. If there turns out to be a fandom that I enjoy that's great. There are plenty of things I have enjoyed reading or watching in which I have very little fannish interest at all, such as Tolkien.

The series of the year I haven't watched appears to be the third series of Norwegian Skam, and I plan to catch up with the lot in 2017. However the English-language fandom (tumblr) sounds awful, and I'm both too late for the Norwegian one and don't have good enough (i.e. any) written Norwegian to participate. Also, world enough and time...

13. Your biggest fan anticipations for the New Year?

Can Andrew Musgrave make the top 10 in the Tour de Ski? (Dubious. Top 15, OTOH, possible and would be nice to see.)

DOING MORE WRITING MYSELF and making an attempt to finish the eternal Wimsey crossover WIP. I will conquer, I swear!
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
The public toilets at Edinburgh railway station provide hair straighteners...
nineveh_uk: picture of holly in snow (holly)
Here I am in the bosom of my family (TM), which is very enjoyable and not really giving me any time for writing or relaxing with a book. My plans for a couple of Yuletide treats remain unfulfilled. But it is fun even though the weather isn't. Today involves the preparation of vegetables plus the Boxing Day ham, a walk during the dry bit in order to get outside, last bits and pieces, and early dinner at an Italian restaurant in order to give my young nephews something else to be hyper about. I am giving them foam swords; in my defence, their parents asked for them. Kids' fake swords these days are amazing, I have been going around the place striking ninja poses.

Anyway, it's Christmas Eve so time for some carols, which I've been listening to while wrapping presents. O Holy Night is a classic example of something that is good in the original (have Roberto Alagna) and got translated into Victorian twee English that carefully erases any political statement, but even in English it has an excellent tune. Oh yes, and it also needs singing by someone competent.

Enter, obviously, Jussi Björling. Really, no-one does it better:



Not quite as stupendously sung, but a lot of fun, is the HP Lovecraft filk version, Unholy Night:



Best of all, the scene from Frasier, in which Martin Crane attempts to sing it:



I am summoned to the parsnips and it has started to rain again. At some point I must dash to Morrison's, but clearly not yet.
nineveh_uk: Photo of Rondvassbu in winter (rondvassbu)
I have committed further Yuri on Ice fic. Sorry, normal service will be resumed, I promised, and in the meantime there will be no soulmates AU.*

(1) A second chapter for In the Studio, with TV commentators Megan and John (and a techs chorus) at the Grand Prix Final.

(2) Yakov POV with teenage Victor A Coach's Lot. In which Yakov considers that part of his duties as a coach includes giving the professional equivalent of The Talk to young skaters heading off to international competition, in the hope that they won't do anything too stupid.**

*

I head north tomorrow for Christmas. Naturally I have not finished packing. When planning my break I did it with the intention of maximising the time spent with my family, and I'm really looking forward to that. At the same time, I think I probably ought to have given myself an extra day to sort myself out first, especially as I come back on the 2nd and am in the office on the 3rd. Still, I have nearly 6 hours on the train to relax...

* Famous last words.

** I want more Yakov fic. He's obviously very fond of Victor, does well by his skaters, and post-episode 10 his reasons for his immense cheesed-off-ness with Victor earlier in the series have become clear... Actually, I think what I want is comedy Yakov divorce fic, as witnessed by teenage Victor.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
A far too belated rec for a birthday fic from [personal profile] naraht: Marginal Gains. It’s the Yuri on Ice doping fic the fandom needed: fun, well-characterised, and tackling a subject inexplicably absent from the fandom. I see that it has now turned from one chapter to 1/3, and await the next with much excitement. It was particularly well-timed in view of Friday’s McLaren Report II on state-sponsoring doping in Russian sport. As a cross-country ski fan I await with interest the revelations of any names…

I am still failing to find time for fic, but hopefully might manage more of it from the end of the week when I have a fortnight off work.

In other news, I shall be going to a work ‘winter school’ in Barcelona in March for a week. Most exciting! I have never been to mainland Spain and can’t speak a word of Spanish beyond ‘gracias’, which I probably pronounce incorrectly. It is a joint European universities initiative thing, and the theme of this one turns out to be ‘internationalism’, which might explain why I got in since my application leaned heavily on the subject of ‘you should give me a place because post-Brexit, British universities need all the European connections they can get.’ On the downside, I believe it involves networking.
nineveh_uk: picture of holly in snow (holly)
I am back from a long weekend in Harrogate with my sisters in celebration of the fact that I have a significant birthday approaching.* I am feeling surprisingly less tired than I might have expected, probably helped by the fact that despite the time of year the trains were civilised so the journeys weren't tiring, even if last minute ticket purchase when I decided that driving wasn't a good idea made them expensive. There is something to be said for enforced sitting down and reading. Middle Sister had donated her work-flights-earned Air Miles to the cause so we had a very nice hotel and I had a bath this morning just because it was there. There was some delicious food, entertaining theatre, and large amounts of nostalgia.

Yesterday involved a walk to Harlow Carr, which we didn't actually go into because this is not really the time of year for a rather expensive garden, but spent much time in its excellent bookshop. My sisters bought various Christmas presents, I bought some lavender-flavoured white chocolate. We took it in terms to comment on the qualities of various cornus in the absence of our mother. Alas, we didn't eat at Betty's because it isn't the time of year you can do that without booking or lots of time, but I had a sausage roll and curd tart, and purchased biscuits of gratitude for a couple of colleagues who have been particularly helpful with big stressful project.**

The main event of the weekend was West Yorkshire Playhouse's production of Strictly Ballroom, which had opened on Wednesday and was enormous fun. Bring on the sequins! On the way back to the station we observed that the long-awaited John Lewis has finally arrived. Honestly, we'd been promised the bloody thing for decades, and then it turns up after my parents leave. The building is genuinely impressive, though; we even admired the car park. It looks like origami done in stone, and yet is strangely in keeping with the buildings around it. Also noted on the way to and from the theatre was the extraordinary extent to which the people of Leeds have embraced the Christmas jumper.

*According to my student self by this point in life I am supposed to have re-read Ulysses and have published a novel. I have decided that the former was a whim, not an obligation, and the second delayed by circumstances beyond my control.

**Technically they were just doing their jobs, but with an unfailing good humour and helpfulness that meant that at least I didn't also have to stress about the photocopying because I could fling it in someone's direction with ten minutes to spare. Material acknowledgement feels warranted.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
Autumn leaves blaze bright –
I don’t care. Let me sleep ’til
Next millennium.
nineveh_uk: Photo of Rondvassbu in winter (rondvassbu)
Or to be precise,Yuri!!! on Ice. I don’t know why the exclamation marks are there, but they are. I’m not an anime watcher, it’s a genre that hasn’t really crossed my path since the days of French-Japanese co-productions shown dubbed on children’s television.* But I saw this mentioned as an anime about figure skating, and since though I am no skating devotee I class it under “winter sports I like” and as no-one going to make a series about cross-country skiing, I thought I’d give it a go. It didn’t hurt that the link I clicked made the skating look gorgeous.

Yuri on Ice follows Katsuki Yuuri**, a Japanese figure skater who is very talented, but lacks confidence and who has reached the nadir of his career after bombing in a major competition last season. He is miserable, out of form, and doesn’t know where to go next, but his luck changes when a bunch of infant skater fangirls post a video of him skating to a routine on the internet and it goes viral.

Because the routine is the impossibly hard and artistic one of Viktor Nikiforov***, all round Russian skate god who at 27 is ancient in skater years and wondering what to do next as it gets harder and harder to surprise the audience. Answer? Get on a plane to Japan and coach Yuuri, to the great confusion of the skating world, and the fury of Russian junior champion, now fresh-faced senior,15 year old other Yuri, who was counting on Viktor training – or at least providing choreography for - him.

So yes, there is a lot of skating, and it looks absolutely wonderful, as it should since they got professional consultants to help with it, and it is also funny and charming with endearing characters. But of course that’s not the only reason that there are suddenly a lot of fics for a 4 week-old fandom and the current women's skating champion's twitter is full of pictures.

That reason is the fact that Yuri on Ice is like an old-fashioned UST slash fic come to life, pining and all. Because Yuuri is not just a casual fan of Victor, he appears to be in love with him. Hell, in the last episode he pretty much declared that he was. He's been a fan for 11 years. His bedroom is covered with Victor posters. He got into skating seriously out of a hope to meet and compete against him. He skated his new routine in an attempt to get his love of skating back. He even named his (deceased) dog after him. And then the skate god he fancies like mad turns up in his family’s hot spring resort naked but for a strategically placed fountain and announces he is his new coach, at which Yuuri turns into a gibbering wreck and the entire show to massive fanservice, with the subtext, as Rupert Giles once put it, rapidly becoming text.

It is funny, endearing, with engaging characters and good-looking animation (at least to me, who hasn't seen it all before) and just the ticket for weary autumn evenings. For all I know it is massively full of cliches, but they are new cliches to me. The fic is, predictably, appalling. "Silverette" and "ravenette" is the least of it.

YouTube is failing me badly on clips of the skating routines, which only goes to show that fandom has its priorities wrong, but have an official trailer and opening credits.

*All together now, 'Children of the sun, see your time has just begun'...

**There are two Yuris, both transliterated from different alphabets. Japanese!Yuri tends to end up getting spelt Yuuri.

**Or as he is known in real life, Evgeni Plushenko. Although Plushenko, enormously charismatic skater though he is, does not as far as I am aware cause room-fulls of journalists to faint when he smiles.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
My parents have returned to points north after a weekend visit including a bird reserve, Stowe gardens (for autumn leaves), and Welsh National Opera's Kiss Me Kate. Obviously, I am now knackered, although in fairness to them I was knackered before they arrived. Tomorrow begins [community profile] picowrimo, in which I am determined to pick up some neglected fic*.

With the clocks back it is feeling even more decidedly autumnal than it was last week, when the trees decided that they had had enough of being green and were going to burst into various shades of flame. It is still two months until Christmas, and yet it feels like it is very soon.

Anyway, have some Shakespeare (song starts a minute in).



*And I certainly have a choice of it.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
You can't, sorry. However while there is as yet no cure for the common cold, there is quite a lot that you can do in order to feel less dreadful while you have one, whether that is less dreadful as you groan in your bed with the cold from hell, pausing every five minutes to blow your nose, or less dreadful with the cold from purgatory, with which you still have to go to work. And since I have extensive experience in this area, I thought I might as well share it.

There are three options when you have a cold.

(1) Do nothing. I have done this in the past, in the "you're just treating the symptoms" mindset. I don't do that anymore. It probably won't harm you unless you are predisposed to secondary infections, or you decide to garnish it with things like going running in the cold. But if you've got a mild sniffle, time to rest, and like drinking tea, it's not a terrible idea.

(2) Do a bit. Probably what most people do, really. A combination of personal preference, need, and what you know about and can physically take.

(3) Hit it with everything that the pharmaceutical industry can throw at it. This is my way. It will not cure a cold, nor reduce the time you have it. But it makes me feel a lot better while I have it, and may reduce complications.

Option 3 got long... )

One is wan

Oct. 23rd, 2016 09:49 am
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)
I have a cold, and an LJ poll on one, won, and wan.

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